UK economy at risk from falling spending on research - Blomfield

REGIONAL economies will suffer unless the Government does more to encourage research, a Yorkshire MP has warned.

Paul Blomfield raised concerns about research spending in Parliament

Paul Blomfield called on Ministers to take action to reverse the fall in the amount spent on research and innovation in the UK.

The Sheffield Central MP pointed to figures showing the UK invests just 1.7 per cent of GDP in research compared to the European average of 2.4 per cent and 2.8 per cent in the United States.

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Mr Blomfield said publicly funded research had fallen to its lowest point in 20 years threatening British universities’ ability to produce world-leading innovations.

Mr Blomfield told MPs: “At a time when we all share a concern about the regional imbalance of economic growth, universities are one of the few assets we have that are spread evenly across the country, and they are able to generate economic growth in all regions and all nations of the UK.”

He added: “We are at a crossroads. The erosion of the UK’s capacity to technologically innovate was not inevitable; it was the unintended consequence of a series of choices made over decades.

“But we can reverse it. If we do not, we will be condemned to continue on our current trajectory of low growth and poor trade performance and will ultimately lose power over our own economic destiny.

“I urge the Government to recognise the vital contribution of research innovation to the UK, to ensure that we can thrive in a globally competitive environment.”

Mr Blomfield was speaking in Parliament in a debate he had secured on the future science and research.

Science Minister Jo Johnson said that science and research ran through the Conservative General Election manifesto “like words through a stick of rock” and is a “personal passion” of Chancellor George Osborne.

“Science and research therefore is front and centre of our solution to the productivity puzzle and such investment in our regions will be one of the key ways in which we will try to plug the productivity gap that holds us back,” he said.